Hi everyone, I'm here because I'm looking for some insight, advice and hopefully answers to my particular situation.
I'm a 32 year old married father of 2, I became a Christian back 2004 after a supposed 'word from God' but perhaps largely because my wife and all her family are members of the Anglican/Charasmatic movement and maybe felt some sort of affinity to them. I even went so far as to join the worship team of an extremely large and popular charasmatic church in Oxford which have been involved with since 2005.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I've recently started to seriously question my belief structure. I've never felt entirely 'comfortable' with being a Christian in the way I always thought I should be, I never really prayed in public, I couldn't quote you specific scripture like a pro and always thought that the Church I am a part of uses emotional manipulation through 'sad and songs' and the pastors alter call to invoke a sense of vulnerability, surely not something I should be thinking if I truly 'get it'
In the last few years she has become more and more extreme in her views, dare I say fundamentalist. Don't get me wrong, she is a very kind, polite and caring woman, but I can no longer stomach some of the things she passionately believes and I'm seriously considering de conversion. She has been a Christian since she was born lived, breathed and evangelised the Christian doctrine and for the longest time we were very happy, having two gorgeous sons
However I've recently had cause to come clean to my wife of 7 years, who is what I would call a 'born' Christian of a string of indiscrections since before we were married, this understandably has caused her great pain for which I am truly sorry, however she has now told me that the ONLY way of saving our marriage is through Christian channels/the grace and love of God or not at all.
Now fair enough, hands up I should take what is coming, but I love my boys and would be prepared to do anything to stay with them, I feel a great affection for my wife as my best friend and indeed all the friends I have made through the Church, but knowing that I feel the way I do about my (lack of) faith I am torn as to weather I should take the step and tell her I can't pursue Christian channels with a clear conscience for the sake of staying in our marriage.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, I appreciate your comments
Greg House said it better than I can - "If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people."
But I salute your naiveté --
If I was your wife, I would have flung you out months ago, and good riddance. It looks like you've been weak all along. Would I want you to bring up my sons? No.
"the ONLY way of saving our marriage is through Christian channels/the grace and love of God or not at all."
Sounds about right.
Sorry, but you did ask our opinions.
So because I've had a few instances over the last 10 years where I've been a little weak in part due to the influence of alcohol (and I'm not even talking about sleeping around) that automatically disqualifies me from the right to bring up my kids? I don't think so and neither would any reasonable human being. We all have our vices..not that I'm trying to excuse my actions in any way whatsoever - but the good little Christian I am not, never have been or ever will be, it's not natural to me and this is the crux of the problem.
I am and always have been there for my boys, I wouldn't change the decision to have kids with my wife at all, we have a lot of history and through everything I'd like to think we would remain friends if things didn't work out..
Perhaps that's wishful thinking.
Well, you said "indiscretions".
Still, though, Simon - a pretty severe expression of that opinion, under the circumstances.
You love your children, but, are you in love with her? Are you staying just because of your kids? Is this religious issue just a small tip of the iceberg?
Richard, you didn't mention your own prior belief history. Could we know more?
sure, basically I wasn't brought up as a Christian, but I was subjected to it by going to a C of E school when I was a kid (it was the only school for miles around so not much choice) so from a very young age I was taught to believe in God, but like most teenagers I decided pretty early on that it wasn't for me.
Fast forward to my early 20's and I meet my to be wife in a club (in her own words she was 'back slidden') and we hit it off, I gradually get drawn into going to meetings with her and her family until I made the decision to jump back in headfirst.. perhaps to try and feel some sort of forgiveness for what I'd done up to that point.. I don't know.. needless to say I sort of felt obligated to carry on, joined the worship team of a popular and growing congregation in Oxford after quitting quite a promising band and I have to say for a while it was easy - I went to church, tried to fit in, be 'holy' and pray all the right things..but never 'got it' in the same way that others seemed to.
I first started thinking something wasn't quite right about 3 years ago, I'd be on the stage at this popular church playing songs and all I would see is pastors/leaders trying their best to manipulate people using emotionally charged music into doing and saying things which didn't sit right in my gut.. people falling over, having 'experiences' and I just couldn't see that it was anything else but a pantomime..
But like most people in the Church (I suspect if they were honest) I just played along for the sake of keeping my wife happy, my friends and it sounds bad but just to be able to playing my guitar in a band setting..
I've never really 'got it' and now I realise that's because there is nothing to get.
Here's an idea for your consideration - modern Christianity is all about the teachings of Paul, who essentially hijacked the Christian religion from the apostles and made it his own, and I've no doubt that it's his teachings that are fueling your wife's beliefs.
Have you considered sitting down with her, after the kids are tucked in, and one chapter at a time, reading the Bible from cover to cover, starting with Gen 1? I don't mean skipping around, as pastors do, picking verses out of context to prove their points, I mean really reading the whole thing from beginning to end. It will a) give the two of you something to do together, b) give you the appearance of really trying to meet her halfway, and c) could very well open her eyes to a lot of things, since I strongly suspect she has never bothered, like so many dyed-in-the-wool Christians, to actually read her religion's instruction manual from cover to cover.
Here're what a few of my old friends have to say on the subject:
"Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand."
-- Mark Twain --
"A thorough reading and understanding of the Bible is the surest path to atheism."
-- Donald Morgan --
"Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived."
-- Issac Asimov --
I was trying to find something witty, but this is much more serious and deserves a more gentle wisdom.
I lived with a gal who was catholic and I humanist/atheist. It was clear that as our relationship matured, the religious differences became more important, and after her mom died, thoughs differences were lifted to the front burner (that could be a pun, sorry).
Not being married, seemed to be a deal breaker for her, my commitment was not important. Finally I had enough and cut lose. Watching the process, it really looked like her religion was driving her bananas. I being a rather unaccomplished social engineer, cound find no repairs that would off any change.
Watching other couples go through this, it seems that the religious issue can be lifted above interests of children. This could be a place in the theist ideology that is atleast as distructive as actual physical abuse. Can interpersonal love, and interests of children, be lifted above ideology? Or have theists become so commited that they are blinded by their 'light'?
One must not forget that atheists can be very doctrineer also.
My wife and I have come to a place to agree to disagree on a few points. So far health issues seem to be getting harder to ignore as we have aged, but marriage never promised a rose garden. We did get a jungle out of it though...;p)